Babar Ahmad has been extradited to the United States after the High Court refused to review his case. Last month, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval for the extradition. At a federal district court hearing in New Haven, Connecticut, Babar Ahmad pleaded not guilty and is currently in custody.
Mr Ahmad has been held in prison in the UK for eight years without trial. He was arrested in 2004, imprisoned under the Extradition Act 2003, and has been detained ever since. He had been arrested due to allegations that he was involved in terrorist activity through a website hosted in America.
Babar Ahmad’s brother-in-law Fahad Ahmad read a statement on his behalf, in which he said, “Today I have lost my 8 year and 2 month battle against extradition to the US. I would like to thank all those over the years who supported me and my family: lawyers, politicians, journalists and members of the public from all walks of life. By exposing the fallacy of the UK’s extradition arrangements with the US, I leave with my head held high having won the moral victory”.
A last minute appeal for a judicial review at the British High Court was denied on 5th October and Babar Ahmad was immediately extradited that evening to the United States. The European Court of Human’s rights ruled that there would be “no violation of the applicants” rights if they were to be extradited for a trial in America and therefore rejected a request for the referral of Babar Ahmad’s case to the Grand Chamber.
Babar Ahmad’s father, Ashfaq Ahmad, who was extremely disappointed over the High Court’s refusal of the judicial review, said, “After over 40 years of paying taxes in this country, I am appalled that the system has let me down in a manner more befitting of a third world country than one of the world’s oldest democracies… It seems that the Metropolitan police, the CPS and the court have colluded to implement a pre-determined decision which was made in Washington. We will never abandon our struggle for justice and the truth will eventually emerge of what will be forever remembered as a shameful chapter in the history of Britain”.
Shadow Justice Minister, and Tooting MP, Sadiq Khan, said: “The way criminal cases work in America means that defendants facing a trial are advised to plea bargain. It is a big risk pleading ‘Not Guilty’. My understanding is that the consequences of this include the threat of life in solitary confinement without parole, should they lose a trial. If those are the stakes which pleading ‘Not Guilty’ involve then it is no wonder that over 97 per cent of defendants accept a plea bargain – regardless of how confident or determined they are to stand trial”
A British Businessman and anti-extradition campaigner Karl Watkin tried to call for a private prosecution in the UK. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Kier Starmer QC, rejected his proposal. Mr Starmer released a statement that said Mr Watkin’s documents were “very short, lack any meaningful detail and do not provide any real support for a prosecution”.
Mr Watkins responded stating, “The public will decry this decision as it supports a trial thousands of miles from where the alleged crime was committed simply because in the DPP’s opinion, the evidence is too weak to prosecute in the UK. If that’s not outsourcing our criminal justice system, I don’t know what is.”